Friday, June 08, 2018

The hypocrisy and bigotry of the academic Left

"Academia’s deep ­antipathy towards its own civilisation”

A course in Western civilisation has proved too provocative for the Australian National University to take on, yet its Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies has been at the forefront of contentious discussions around Middle Eastern politics and society with minimal backlash from its ­academics.

The centre, which has benefited from sizeable donations from the United Arab Emirates and the governments of Iran and Turkey, frequently publishes ­articles supportive of a Palestine state and Iran, hosts lectures on “deconstructing the extremist narrative” and “Islamophobia in post-communist Europe”, and has featured guest speakers who are critical of US policy.

It has also spruiked the success of a delegation to Iran late last year — led by ANU chancellor Gareth Evans — as the “first round of the Australia-Iran dialogue” after a 10-year suspension.

ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt has been forced to ­defend the centre in the wake of criticism of the university’s decision to withdraw from negoti­ations with the Sydney-based Ramsay Centre over a proposed degree in Western civilisation and scholarship program.

Professor Schmidt announced the decision last Friday, citing concerns for academic autonomy. However, it also followed threats of a backlash from the National Tertiary Education Union, which had claimed that the Ramsay Centre — chaired by former prime minister John Howard and with Liberal politician Tony Abbott on the board — sought to pursue a “narrow, radically conservative program to demonstrate and promulgate the alleged superiority of Western culture and civilisation”.

“Any association, real or perceived, with this divisive cultural and political agenda could potentially damage the intellectual reputation of the humanities at ANU and the ANU more broadly,” the union wrote in its letter to the vice-chancellor.

Politicians and conservative academics have since questioned how ANU had been able to successfully negotiate donations with foreign entities but had been unable to resolve any issues preventing the Ramsay Centre ­alliance from going ahead.

Mr Abbott this week pointed out the “hypocrisy” of the union opposing the course when the university had accepted funds from Dubai, Iran and Turkey in the past. A member of one of the donors, Dubai’s Al-Maktoum Foundation, is listed as a member of the centre’s advisory board.

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has also accused the university of double standards. “They are accepting money from Iran. That’s a despotic government … that does everything to suppress academic freedoms, the freedoms of women,” Mr Kelly told Sky News.

“When it comes to a course on Western civilisation, absolutely, any course of Western civilisation is going to be pro-Western civilisation, simply because of the facts, because Western civilisation is why we have the great society that we have today.”

Bella d’Abrera, the program ­director of Western civilisation at the Institute of Public Affairs, said she struggled to understand how a course that was “for” Western civil­isation should be viewed any more contentiously than that of the Arab studies centre’s promotion of Middle Eastern and Central Asian politics and culture and the role of Islam in the broader world.

She pointed to an upcoming symposium sponsored by the centre on “alternative traditions of law, norms and rules” that will seek to examine “new ways of seeing the relationship between ­interpretation, law and justice”.

“The fact that ANU is prepared to accept funds to promote the study of other civilisations but has rejected Ramsay Centre’s generosity reveals academia’s deep ­antipathy towards its own civilisation,” Dr d’Abrera said.

Arab studies centre director Amin Saikal did not return calls or emails yesterday. The highly distinguished academic has written extensively on Middle Eastern politics.

In an article last June published in the centre’s Bulletin, titled “Fifty Years of Israel’s occupation”, he wrote about Israel’s unwillingness to implement any deal that could require it to relinquish its occupation of the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

He was critical of Benjamin Netanyahu and referred to Hamas, “which Israel, as well as many of its Western supporters, especially the US, have denounced as a ‘terrorist organisation’.”

An article by his deputy director, James Piscatori, also published in the Bulletin, critiques Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, which prompted Iran to issue a fatwa against the author, as ­“gratuitously offensive”.

“One wonders: would he have been able to achieve the same ­effect of questioning the ­sacred with less confrontational language?” Professor Piscatori writes.

“For when the intended audience finds the metaphors crudely constructed and the political instrument of language blunt, ­offence is bound to be taken.

“What may have been intended as literary licence, even a philosophical challenge, is destined to be greeted by those within the ­tradition as ‘literary terrorism’.”

Professor Schmidt has declined repeated interview requests, but in a letter on ANU’s website on Tuesday he said he was “disappointed” that the Arab studies centre had been singled out.


Australia remains preferred destination for millionaire migrants

About 10,000 mega rich make Australia home in 2017, lured by proximity to Asia and no inheritance taxes

Australia is the millionaires’ migration destination of choice for the third year running, according to a new report, with wealthy individuals lured by the country’s proximity to Asia, relative safety and no inheritance taxes.

About 10,000 high-net-worth individuals, with a personal wealth of US$1m or more, migrated to Australia in 2017 – mostly from China, India and the UK.

Melbourne and Sydney were among the top 10 cities around the world to have a net immigration of millionaires, as was Auckland in New Zealand. Sydney is one of the wealthiest cities worldwide.

It is part of a growing global movement of millionaires who, according to the 2018 Global Wealth Migration Review published by the AfrAsia Bank this month, are the canaries in the coalmine of economic collapse.

The number of millionaires swapping countries increased by 15% in 2017, to 95,000.

Countries that recorded a net deficit of millionaires – including the UK, which suffered a net loss of 4,000 millionaires in 2017 – should view it as a bad sign, according to the authors.

“If one looks at any major country collapse in history, it is normally preceded by a migration of wealthy people away from that country,” the report said.

Australia is a popular destination because it is safe, politically stable and, importantly, does not have any inheritance taxes. The proximity to Asia also makes Australia a good base for doing business in China and Japan.

It was ranked as the safest country in the world for women by the review in 2018 – a metric, the report says, historically has a 92% correlation to growth in wealth.

The report does note, in parentheses, that some of the super wealthy view Australia as “a nanny state with too many rules”.

It says arguments against immigration do not apply to the very rich, who are “unlikely to take low-paying jobs … unlikely to claim benefits ... [and likely to] send their children to private schools”.

The “only possible negative”, the report says, are increased property prices.

It commends Australian laws preventing foreign investors from buying second-hand homes as a safeguard against property price hikes, although house prices in Sydney and Melbourne nonetheless increased in 2017.

The report said the cost per square metre of property in Sydney rose by 19% in 2017 to US$25,000 ($32,600) per square metre, making it more expensive than traditional playgrounds for the mega rich like Lake Como in Italy. The Sydney housing market has cooled slightly in 2018.

Australia is ranked the ninth-wealthiest country in the world, with a private wealth of US$6.142tn, but is forecast to overtake Canada and France to be the seventh-wealthiest country by 2027.

It is the fifth-wealthiest country per capita, with an average personal wealth of US$279,200, overtaking the US, where the average wealth is US$193,400. Both figures are skewed by supremely wealthy individuals at the top of the scale, but the report says Australia is one of the “most equal” countries in the world, with 28% of the total personal wealth in the country held by individuals with a personal wealth of US$1m or more.

The ratio should be less than 30%, the report argues. Anything above 40% leaves “very little space for a meaningful middle class”.


Airbnb's head of policy says Sydney's new rules to deal with wild parties and other problems could be a model for cities around the world

Airbnb says tough new restrictions in Australia’s largest state on how properties are shared on its platform — including a maximum limit of 180 days of occupation — could be a model for the rest of the world, and even pave the way for a type of “tourist tax” that would spread the benefits of the sharing economy more evenly across the population.

The company says regulations proposed this week in New South Wales that will affect tens of thousands of properties listed on its platform in the Sydney area could be used in other markets, especially when it comes to the use of Airbnb-listed apartments as “party houses” that disrupt other tenants — a problem Airbnb is struggling with in cities worldwide.

Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy, told Business Insider: “We have 500-plus partnerships that we have put in place with governments… and I look at this one as a potential model, or new paradigm, not just for Australia, but for potentially markets in Asia, and potentially markets beyond.”

The rules limit the amount of short-term stays in properties in the Greater Sydney area to 180 days a year, and allow governing bodies of apartment buildings — known in Australia as strata corporations — to ban short-term letting by a vote of 75% or more of the property owners in the development.

Hosts who breach a new code of conduct twice will be banned from letting their properties on platforms like Airbnb for five years.

Lehane, previously a special advisor to Bill Clinton and press secretary to Al Gore, said the new regulations were a “balancing of interests”.

“At a thematic level, and maybe as a function of taking this much time, they’ve [been able] to look at the data, consider who’s using these platforms in NSW, and ultimately design an approach that reflected both how people are actually using it, but also how they want to balance the different stakeholders here.

“I think this is a policy that looks to the future,” Lehane said.

“One thing I am particularly excited about… is the peace dealing with the ‘party house,’ or what I would call the bad actor. 0.005% of folks don’t conduct themselves appropriately on the platform,” he said.

That number is based on insurance claims made of $1,000 or more.

“The vast majority of people use the platform the right way,” he said.

“Our brand is impacted, our community is impacted, when someone doesn’t conduct themselves the right way. Even one thing impacts everyone’s reputation, and all these other hosts who do a great job.”

He said the reforms answered a problem the company has been facing in terms of addressing those “bad actors”.

“One of our challenges has always been that we need to work with these local places to be able to identify when that actually happens, and then be able to do something,” he said.

“That almost by definition requires the platform and the relevant government to work together on that.

“We don’t have the legal authority to know when someone may have violated the nuisance laws.

“We have the ability, once the government has identified that, to remove the people from the platform, so [the reforms] are something that we are really encouraged by.”

In Sydney, the typical host makes about $3,700 a year. While in NSW overall, that increases to about $5,400 a year.

“[The reforms] reflect a policy where the government was looking to optimise for those folks who are using there homes for extra money, making sure neighbourhoods are being protected, which we strongly support, and on the strata issue… if it’s for a commercial use then for other people get to say, that’s a fair and good balance.”

While South Australia and Tasmania have implemented their own rules over the last couple of years, the NSW rules are seen as the toughest in the country.

But Lehane thinks it simply reflects the NSW market.

“I tend not to use… tough versus not tough because I think everything ultimately is bespoke to the particular needs of a particular place,” he said.

“But.. is this going to allow our business to grow? Absolutely”.


New book by educator Kevin Donnelly launched

The book was Donnelly’s new work, "How Political Correctness is Destroying Australia, Enemies Within and Without".

Alan Jones, who might have been Donnelly’s twin were it not for the startling mauve sports coat he wore in a room heavily disposed towards blue suits, kicked off the proceedings with a rapid fire monologue.

As evidence of the deadening weight of political correctness Jones lamented that primary school children today know more about the “fictitious” welcome-to-country ceremony than they do about Burke and Wills; that they believe that climate change will soon see Bathurst on the coast, but can’t explain how Macquarie Street came to be named.

The left’s hijacking of Australian institutions and schools, and broad deference to multiculturalism and Islam are the key themes of Donnelly’s book, which boasts 62 chapters in just 204 pages.

Jones, who wrote the foreword, rattles through the chapter titles with significant enthusiasm, highlighting those that stand out to him.

“Foolish to deny what makes us powerful … Muslims must learn Western values …. Barnaby Joyce right that Australian values based on Judeo-Christian principles.”

Introducing Abbott, Jones suggests that had he remained in office these societal ills might not have come about. Abbott demurs, noting that one of Jones’s faults is his generosity to his friends.

In formally launching Donnelly’s book Abbott is as blunt and direct as he was as a candidate for PM.

In public life, he says, “the one absolute essential is to know your own mind … and you can never be cowed into silence by a fear of the outrage industry.”

Australia, he says, is imperfect but superior to most other nations and societies, but some Australians have become obsessed with its imperfections. A “suffocating politeness” has retarded public debate.

“So let’s be clear, a culture that doesn’t expect women to cover-up from head to toe is better than one that does, a conception of religion that doesn’t justify killing gay people is vastly preferable to one that that does, a country that bends over backwards to protect the rights of minorities is morally superior to one that doesn’t.”

This unabashed advocacy of Australian and Western cultural superiority, he says, is at the heart of Donnelly’s book.

By the time Donnelly himself takes the dais there seems little to add but emphasis, which Donnelly duly provides. The left has indeed taken over Australia’s institutions. “Universities are now dead and have been for years,” he asserts, excepting his own employer, the Australian Catholic University.

Taking questions, the three men concede that they might not yet have been silenced by the left, though Abbott notes reasonably enough that they have thicker skin than most


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

Only way to deal with AirBnb's problems? Deport all Africans. No exceptions.